Unite, the U.K.’s largest labor union, said fuel-tanker drivers won’t strike over the Easter holiday as it seeks to resolve a dispute with employers amid panic buying that forced some gasoline stations to close.
“We will not be calling Easter strike action as we focus on substantive talks through Acas,” Assistant General Secretary Diana Holland said today in an e-mailed statement. “We do still retain the right to call strike action” after Easter “should those talks break down,” she said.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, a mediating body, said yesterday it had been in touch with the union and companies involved in the dispute. “Substantive discussions” will follow next week, it said.
Drivers in Unite working for fuel-distribution companies with clients including Tesco Plc (TSCO), J. Sainsbury Plc, BP Plc (BP\) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc voted to strike over work conditions and changes to pensions. The drivers, numbering about 2,000, deliver fuel to 90 percent of the U.K.’s 8,706 gasoline stations.
The U.K. Petroleum Industry Association Ltd., representing the main oil refining and marketing companies, today urged car owners to avoid hoarding fuel after the threat of a strike and comments by politicians that led to queues at gasoline stations.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said two days ago drivers would be wise to keep their cars topped up and have a spare jerry can of gasoline or diesel at home. Gasoline demand rose 172 percent yesterday and diesel increased 77 percent, the BBC cited the RMI Petrol retailers’ group as saying.
The U.K. has enough fuel to meet demand in the event of a strike, according to UKPIA. “There’s no supply problem,” Nick Vandervell, a London-based spokesman for the group, said yesterday. “People need to stick to their normal fuel patterns.” The Easter holiday runs from April 6 to 9.